Vavi calls for union unity

By Sam Mkokeli

Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi made a passionate plea for unity among the labour federation's allies on Thursday‚ as union delegates wrapped up a four-day elective congress calling for radical government policies.

All Cosatu leaders were re-elected unopposed on Monday.

On the closing day of the four-day congress in Midrand‚ delegates discussed ways to nudge the ANC to accelerate an aggressive programme to fight poverty‚ unemployment and improve working conditions.

Vavi said unity was key if the unions were to be successful in driving a radical policy agenda.

"All the cabals‚ all the caucuses‚ all the foreign practices‚ we must bury them at this moment." He called on Cosatu leaders to "extend a hand" to affiliate leaders‚ as a sign of peace.

While the unions agreed on re-electing the same leaders‚ tension among the affiliates was visible throughout the congress.

The ANC's December Mangaung conference was one of the under-currents in the political debates. The majority of the unions closed rank on Thursday‚ pushing back attempts from some unions to discuss the labour movement's leadership preference in Mangaung.

That debate was deferred to a central executive committee (CEC) meeting‚ to be held in November‚ where Cosatu's leaders will discuss the ANC's Mangaung conference.

On Thursday‚ at various times‚ the National Union of Metalworkers of SA was one of the unions that tried to resurrect the Mangaung debate during an open debate. Other unions closed rank‚ saying the matter would be discussed at the November CEC meeting.